ACES receives unexpected gift from Lay Family Foundation |

ACES receives unexpected gift from Lay Family Foundation

Despite their financial woes, the Lay Family Foundation – run by former Enron CEO Ken Lay – has made a third $110,000 contribution to the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.

A $550,000 pledge was made by the Lay family in January 2001, to be paid in $110,000 increments. ACES did not expect any remaining payments because the Foundation has a number of outstanding pledges that have gone unpaid in the wake of the Enron fiasco of 2001.

In a letter to ACES, Holly Korman, the Foundation’s managing director, said they will no longer be able to make future donations.

“Unfortunately, the majority of the foundation’s funds were in Enron stock and, as a result, the Foundation is unable to fulfill all of its outstanding pledges to non-profit organizations at this time,” Korman wrote.

“Until all outstanding pledges are paid, no new contributions or commitments will be made by the Foundation,” she added.

The Lay’s owned four properties in Aspen before Enron filed for bankruptcy in December 2001. They have since sold all but one of their homes, and the last is under contract.

The Lay’s could not be reached for comment.

The Foundation’s intent to pay the $110,000 pledge will go toward ACES’ Rock Bottom Ranch building and endowment campaign.

The campaign includes the reconstruction of an existing horse barn into a field study center and the establishment of an endowment fund specific to Rock Bottom Ranch. The grant money will also help pay for additional parking, a permanent accessible pathway to the Center, and trails that lead to study and observation sites.

“This is great news for ACES and the 2,600 school-student visits occurring at Rock Bottom Ranch this school year,” said ACES Director Tom Cardamone.

“With increasingly more visits in coming years by children, families, valley residents and visitors, the Field Study Center at Rock Bottom Ranch is essential to ACES ability to serve the needs of the Roaring Fork Valley,” he added.

In addition to the Lay Foundation’s donation, ACES has received a $70,000 challenge grant from the Gates Family Foundation in Denver, and a $50,000 challenge gift from Matthew and Kay Bucksbaum.

Susanne Morrison, the development director for ACES, said most of the work at the Center has been done, but additional money is needed to see the project through.

“In order for the funds pledged to fall into place, an additional $14,000 must be raised,” Morrison said.

[Steve Benson’s e-mail address is]

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